Making the Light Bulb Cartoon

A light came on upstairs so to speak with this cartoon that has quickly become one of my favorites.  I can always tell when I like a particular cartoon because I spend twice as long making the cartoon as I do any of the others.  Also after the cartoon is made I quickly make it my wall paper on my computer screen, I made it my profile picture on my Facebook profile and I scan in my pencil and sketch book drawings to show off in my blog.

Right now what I like most about this cartoon is that it reminds me about how much unrest there is in this country right now.  With the economy going to the pits and everybody hating each other politically, it seems like no one is looking to the light at the end of the tunnel.  I can’t watch the news anymore since it depresses me and I can’t go ten feet down the street in San Francisco without seeing a newspaper headline about the end of the world.  Maybe the light did burn out at the end of the tunnel?

So my cartoon simply explains that we have a crew working on fixing the light so in the meantime we should take a deep breath and wait for it to turn back on.  When I first thought of this cartoon my first thought would be to make the light at the end of the tunnel be a “spot light” like the ones you see at grand openings and shows with a lot of pomp and circumstance.  But I later realized that it wouldn’t be that funny to draw a spot light so why not make it a normal over sized light bulb?  In my first sketch I have the crew all set up like a job site or crime scene with the old light bulb there taped off and ladders….I even started to draw a work van in the background that was going to have a clever sign on the van advertising the light bulb company that “fixes” the hopes of many or something like that.  In the final rough I dropped that idea because the drawing was becoming too busy.

In the pencil drawing before ink, I dropped most of the things that made it look like a crime or job scene and just stuck to the basics.  I thought it was funny without all the extra objects.  Instead I took my time make sure the composition of the panel was full of detail with a deep background.  One of the things that I like about this last draft was the last minute idea to put a directional post sign in the background pointing which way to the tunnel and which way to the light switch.  And even last minute after that was the “No Camping” sign which I think is hilarious since who would camp out near a huge light like that.  Maybe that is why they built the light switch?  So they could turn it off if they had to go to bed.

I made the bald dude talking on a cell phone as if he was in mid-conversation with someone that was checking on the status of the light.  Maybe its the mayor of a local town where everyone has lost all hope, or maybe its his boss who has clients yelling at his company for not being out there earlier.  “I’ve got bulbs out all over town ma’am…we are going as fast as we can ma’am!”  The boss might say.  Or “Do you think 100,000 watt bulbs grow on trees sir?  You’ll know when its back on…please bare with us we are going as fast as we can.”  The guy carrying the big light bulb is a funny dude.  I think its funny that something as delicate as a 100,000 watt light bulb is not being carried by two people.  This dude has to carry it himself.  Man if he tripped on that cord laying in front of him it would all be over.

I really like that the bulb on the right and the speech balloon on the left go out of the frame a bit.  It’s visually more interesting and completes the picture if you see the rest of the bulb in all of its size.

I spent quite a bit of time plotting out the backgrounds.  Backgrounds are the most intimidating for me and I’m really trying to get better.  I get stuck drawing the same style all the time and I need to force myself to experiment a little.  In many cartoons maybe I put one or two trees…but this time I tried to show real depth with many trees going back into the background.  Also drawing trees on the hill which covers the tunnel was fun for me to do.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off.  For now, at least, I think I did.

You can see the finished cartoon here.  Please let me know your thoughts on this cartoon.  What strikes you?  What ideas do you have about the story of the cartoon?

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